CORNISH PIRATES v NEWPORT – British & Irish Cup Pool A - Sunday March 7 (3pm at Camborne)
IT is winner takes all at the Camborne Recreation Ground on Sunday (3pm) as the Cornish Pirates face Welsh Premiership team Newport with a place in the semi-final of the British & Irish Cup up for grabs.
The Welsh side's shock win in Dublin last weekend against Leinster suddenly threw Pool A wide open again and the Cornish Pirates claimed pole position coming into the final round of group fixtures by beating Exeter Chiefs 37-14.
However, Newport will pose a stern test for the Pirates having also beaten Exeter at home and drawn with Plymouth Albion in a brutal contest back in November.
Currently third in the Welsh Premiership, they boast two full Welsh internationals among their ranks in wing Gareth Wyatt and centre Matthew Watkins. Much of the Newport squad has been capped at age-grade level for Wales including nine players with U21 honours.
They will travel to Cornwall confident of pulling off another shock and head coach Sven Cronk told the club website: "It is in our own hands and that is all we could ask for."
He continued: "There are some bruised and battered bodies (after beating Leinster) and we will have to manage the workload this week but the boys want to finish the job on Sunday."
Cornish Pirates backs coach Harvey Biljon said: "What a game it promises to be and what a competition this has been. "We know it is going to be a tough encounter and they will come down here all guns blazing but I'm sure Ian (Davies) will have some input on it all too!"
Biljon was keen to stress that the Pirates do not see the cup competition as a distraction and when asked if the team want to win the trophy said: "Absolutely. We play every game to win and this just adds to the momentum we have been building going in to the play offs."
Competition for places in the Pirates starting line-up remains fierce and the injured trio of prop Alan Paver, hooker Rob Elloway and centre Tom Luke will all be hoping to be available for selection again.
Cornish Pirates (from): Cook, Jackson, Ireland, Winn, Davies, Bentley, Cattle, Ward, Cowan, McGlone, Morgan, Evans, Holmes, Doherty, Labuschagne, Storer, Rimmer, Havili, Gulliver, Franklin, Brits, Andrew, Franklin, Devlin, Prosser, Collins, McAtee, Luke, Myerscough, Paver, Elloway.
● The Cornish Pirates will celebrate St Piran's Day On Sunday when they meet Newport in the British & Irish Cup, writes Phil Westren.
The festival celebrations will start at 12.30pm with an event to celebrate all that is great about Cornwall. In addition to the rugby, the Pirates will be taking over the adjacent Camborne Park, which will host a Cornish food and drink fair, a fish cookery display by local chefs including Rick Stein's head chef Stephane Deloume, and also be a fun fair, bouncy castle and face painting.
The Cornish Wurzells will entertain the crowds and Falmouth Marine Band will lead the famous giant pasty parade around the ground, culminating in the passing of the giant pasty over the posts. With this event in its second year, the Pirates are keen to develop this Cornish celebration into a successful annual event, to provide the people of Cornwall an opportunity to come out and celebrate their great heritage.
Amy Smith, Cornish Pirates marketing and events co-ordinator, said: "Following the success of last year's event we are really pleased to be announcing our second St Piran's Festival.
"As Cornwall's premier rugby club, we're keen to provide a day where people from all over Cornwall can get together to celebrate their love both of Cornwall and, of course, Cornish rugby. We have again put together a day that the whole family can enjoy."
Entry to the game (kick-off 3pm) will be free to all children U16 accompanied by an adult.